This is a traditional Szechwan style dish. The ground beef symbolize little ants while the bean threads represent the tree branches. Bean Threads or Bean Thread Noodles are also known as “Saifun” made with mung beans and are found within the Asian section of most supermarkets.
½ pound 90% lean ground beef
1 package (3 pack tray, net wt. 5.29 oz.) bean threads / bean thread noodles
6 medium size shiitake dried black mushrooms
½ can sliced water chestnuts (2.5 oz.) drained
3 cloves garlic
2 scallions, including the green top
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon dried crushed red chili peppers
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (for cooking in a non-stick wok or a fry pan)
3 tablespoons soy sauce (Kikkoman brand)
2 tablespoons rice wine or cooking sherry wine
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons pure sesame oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Soak the bean threads in warm water for 10 minutes until soft. Drain water. Use one hand to hold a bunch of bean threads on the cutting board and cut into 2 inches long pieces. Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 10 minutes until soft. Drain water from mushrooms, cut off stems if any and finely chop. Finely chop the water chestnuts. Crush, peel and mince the garlic. Wash and trim the green onions, finely chop. Peel and finely grate the fresh ginger root. In a small bowl, mix the sauce ingredient together and set aside.
Heat oil in a non-stick wok or a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown garlic, onions, ginger root and red chili peppers for a few seconds. Add ground beef and stir-fry for approximately 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, water chestnuts, bean threads and the sauce mixture. Lower heat to medium. Cook and stir constantly for approximately 3 to 4 minutes until the bean threads are soft and transparent in color. Turn off heat and let the bean threads rest in the wok or pan for 5 to 10 minutes. They will expand just a bit. Serve warm with steamed rice or create a hand roll with lettuce leaves.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 7 minutes